According to Highway Statistics 2013, published by the Department of Transportation, lights trucks and passenger cars account for 69 percent of the motor vehicles on America's roadways. It should come as no surprise then, that accidents involving passenger vehicles are responsible for the majority of traffic accident injuries and fatalities. Of the more than 2.31 million traffic accident injuries reported in 2013, there were more than 1.29 million injuries caused by passenger vehicle accidents and an additional 750,000 injuries caused by light truck accidents, or roughly 88 percent of the yearly total.
Car accidents pose a significant risk to the health and well-being of road and highway users. In the event of a car accident, it is important to remember that the driver responsible for the collision may be responsible for any damages that occur. If you or a loved one has been injured in a passenger car or light truck wreck, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Our lawyers can help ensure that your legal rights are protected and that the insurance companies fulfill their responsibilities to cover medical bills, wage loss and compensate victims for pain and suffering when appropriate. Contact the Pennsylvania, New Jersey or New York Offices of the Locks Law Firm today to speak with an experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer or schedule a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation.
Protecting yourself from the consequences of an automobile accident often begins with the purchase of appropriate automobile insurance coverage. This can be a complex undertaking because there are different types of coverage available and frequently they are not well explained.
Coverage varies from state to state, so you need to know what is offered and advisable in your state.
Below are brief primers on protecting yourself in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Pennsylvania requires every registered motor vehicle to be covered with automobile insurance at least to cover the damage that you may cause if you are at fault in an accident. There are also coverages that protect you in the event that you are injured by someone who is not insured or who does not have adequate coverage. The categories of coverage are as follows.
Liability Insurance covers your liability for injury caused to others if you are at fault for the accident. This coverage is mandatory in the minimum sum of $15,000 per injured person and $30,000 per accident. Although this is the minimum required under Pennsylvania law, an individual can benefit from carrying higher limits. Carrying higher limits will protect a person's assets in the event of a large claim, and it makes a person eligible for higher uninsured and underinsured coverage.
Collision Coverage covers damage to your car. Carry enough to cover the value of your car. A lending bank or leasing company will almost always require this coverage if you are financing the car. Even if you are not, it is usually good to have unless your car is very old or worth very little.
Medical Payments are also known as personal injury protection (PIP). This coverage is required in the minimum sum of $5,000. If bills exceed that, then they go to your health insurance coverage. You can purchase more automobile health insurance coverage - and should - if you do not have health insurance as medical bills related to auto accidents frequently exceed $5,000. In many instances, the automobile health coverage more readily covers services like physical therapy which can make higher limits worthwhile.
Wage Loss Coverage covers your loss of wages up to a fixed amount for time lost from work as a result of a car accident. Both medical and wage loss coverage are provided by your own insurance carrier for you regardless of who is at fault in the accident, as long as you have the coverage. If you do not work, or are retired you may not need wage loss coverage.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage is an optional coverage that covers you for your injuries when they are caused by an uninsured motorist. Underinsured coverage is also valuable coverage to have as it covers you for your injuries when they are caused by a driver who has inadequate insurance to cover your losses. You may purchase uninsured and underinsured coverage in amounts up to the amount of liability coverage that you buy to cover injuries that you cause to others.
With respect to the full tort/limited tort option, it is generally advisable to purchase full tort coverage. If you buy limited tort coverage, you may save a fairly small amount of money, but you give up your right to make a claim against a negligent driver who injures you in a car crash unless the injury is very serious. In Pennsylvania insurance companies often claim that injuries that most of us would consider serious such as broken legs and herniated discs are not serious. In the event you are injured in an accident it is always better to have full tort coverage so that you can make a claim for your pain and suffering, uncovered wage loss and any uncovered medical bills.
The State of New Jersey adopted the Automobile Insurance Cost Reduction Act in 1998 to reduce the cost of automobile insurance by reducing the benefits available to persons who are injured in automobile accidents. However, the Act has not reduced automobile insurance rates in the state and instead has only served to reduce the benefits available to persons who are injured in automobile accidents. This means less coverage to pay for medical treatment and less rights to recover monetary damages from careless drivers who cause accidents.
We realize that most major purchases like automobile insurance are a compromise between cost and what is optimal. However, in a world where you wanted to know the best options to protect your rights and safety, these are the recommendations we would make.
You are required to choose either the Standard Policy or Basic Policy. The Basic Policy does not provide adequate protection for your assets if you are sued. Nor does it give you adequate coverage for you or your family if you are injured by a careless driver. DO NOT ELECT THE BASIC POLICY.
The Standard Policy provides liability coverage if someone makes a claim against you and if you or a resident member of your family is injured by a person who is uninsured or has no bodily injury liability coverage.
The Standard Policy provides medical expense benefits (PIP) coverage, which includes medical expenses up to $250,000 per person per accident. You may elect to purchase less coverage in the amounts of $15/50/75/150,000; however, if you do, you may not have enough insurance to obtain all of the medical treatment you need or to pay for all of your medical bills.
Choose the “No Threshold” Option
If you purchase a Standard Policy, you are required to elect a tort option that will determine if you have the right to make a claim. You must select either the limitation on lawsuit option or the no limitation on lawsuit option. If you purchase a Basic Policy, you are assigned the limitation on lawsuit option.
The lawsuit limitation option (also known as the verbal threshold) limits your legal rights to make a claim for monetary damages or to file a lawsuit against a careless driver unless you sustain one of the following types of injury.
Type 1 - Death
Type 2 - Dismemberment
Type 3 - Significant disfigurement or significant scarring
Type 4 - Displaced fractures
Type 5 - Loss of a fetus
Type 6 - Permanent injury (which occurs when a body part has not and will not heal to function normally with further treatment) within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement
By contrast the no limitation option permits you to make a claim or to file a lawsuit against a careless driver for any and all personal injuries, without regard to whether the types of injuries are met or whether or not there was a serious impact on life.
Finally, it is important to know that while the insurance companies and their agents will tell you that choosing the no limitation on lawsuit option will increase your premiums, that coverage selection really does not increase the dollar amount of premiums paid as much as buyers are led to believe.
A Standard Policy provides liability insurance with insurance with minimum limits of $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident if you or your family are sued. But you may purchase additional coverage to protect your assets. Most people feel that the minimum limits of $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident are inadequate. Many people purchase additional coverage up to $100,000, $300,000 or $500,000.
In addition, the amount of your recovery from a careless driver may be limited by the amount of liability insurance purchased by that driver and by the owner of the vehicle. If they have no insurance at all, then you cannot recover anything other than any personal assets they may have, which is an unlikely scenario. However, if you purchase a Standard Policy, you can purchase uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage to enable you to recover damages for the negligence of others who are either uninsured or not adequately insured. It is important to recognize that you are able to purchase this coverage up to the same amount as your liability coverage. So if you have $500,000 in liability coverage to protect your assets if you are sued, you can also purchase $500,000 in uninsured/underinsured coverage to compensate you for your own injuries caused by others who were either not insured or not adequately insured.
Speeding, improper lane changes, left turns while failing to yield the right of way, failing to observe traffic signals, inattentive driving, reckless driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and defective equipment cause traffic accidents. By understanding what some of the more common causes of traffic accidents are, you can get a better idea of the type of lawsuit you can file. To learn more about your rights if you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, contact a Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer from the Locks Law Firm. We can review your claim and determine your case eligibility.
It is very important to take certain measures after you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident to ensure that anyone needing medical attention receives it and to gather information about the other driver to help guarantee that your legal rights will be protected. If the police are on the scene and prepare a report, you should not need to do more. But in situations where the police are not there, or where the action does not produce serious injuries, you should be sure to get driver's license and insurance information from the other driver. If you have a camera on your cell phone or in the car, it is a good idea to consider taking pictures of the cars and the accident scene before the vehicles involved. The actions you make after a traffic accident can substantially affect your ability to obtain compensation for any damages that may have occurred.
The police department may perform accident investigation and reconstruction, particularly if an accident is very serious. However, in many accidents, no reconstruction and minimal investigation are done. It is often important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after a serious accident in case it is necessary to do accident reconstruction or investigation before critical evidence is lost.
Many of our clients find that insurance companies will often look for reasons to minimize the amount of compensation they provide or refuse compensation altogether. Be sure to be professionally represented if you are seriously injured in a car crash. Contact a Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer from the Locks Law Firm. At our offices in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, we have the resources needed to conduct thorough accident investigations, do reconstruction when necessary, and determine liability in a motor vehicle accident. If your insurance company is attempting to unreasonably limit the amount of compensation you receive, we will help you fight for fair and just compensation. When an insurance company refuses a reasonable offer to settle within their policy limits it may be guilty of bad faith claims handling and can be liable for additional damages. We will advise you of your rights and fight for you when you have a valid claim.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, contact the Pennsylvania, New Jersey or New York Offices of the Locks Law Firm today to schedule a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation. A New York, New York; Cherry Hill, New Jersey area; or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania car accident lawyer can review your claim and determine if you should pursue a claim against the other driver, a trucking company, the highway department or an automobile manufacturer.Do I have a case? Free Case Evaluation
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